County of Carmarthenshire

Red Kit Milvus milvus ©Wikimedia

Vice County No: 44

Carmarthenshire (Welsh: Sir Gaerfyrddin) is a vice-count and a unitary authority in the south west of Wales and the largest of the thirteen historic counties. It is a large county with a very varied environment. The county is bounded to the north by Ceredigion, to the east by Powys, Neath Port Talbot and Swansea, to the south by the Atlantic Ocean and to the west by Pembrokeshire. The three largest towns are Llanelli, Carmarthen and Ammanford. Carmarthen is the county town and administrative centre of Carmarthenshire but the most populous settlement is Llanelli.

Carmarthenshire is mainly an agricultural county, apart from the southeastern part which at one time was heavily-industrialised with coal mining, steel-making and tin-plating. In the north of the county the woollen industry was very important in the 18th century. Nowadays the economy of the county depends on agriculture, forestry, fishing and tourism. The best agricultural land is in the broad Tywi Valley, especially its lower reaches. With its fertile land and agricultural produce, Carmarthenshire is known as the ‘Garden of Wales’.

The terrain is generally upland and mountainous. Fforest Fawr and Black Mountain extend into the east of the county and the Cambrian Mountains into the north. The south coast contains many fishing villages and sandy beaches. Much of the coast is fairly flat; it includes the Millennium Coastal Park, which extends for ten miles to the west of Llanelli and the National Wetlands Centre. The county is drained by several important rivers which flow southwards into the Bristol Channel, especially the River Towy, and its several tributaries, such as the River Cothi. The Towy is the longest river flowing entirely within Wales. Other rivers include the Loughor (which forms the eastern boundary with Glamorgan), the River Gwendraeth and the River Taf. The River Teifi forms much of the border between Carmarthenshire and Ceredigion.

Birding Carmarthenshire

In the North East corner lies the region that was once Britain’s last bastion of the Red Kite, while in the South West you have, in winter, the UK’s largest flock of Scoters.

In addition to the top sites listed in the section below the following offer some great birding opportunities: St Ishmaels/Ferryside (waders, gulls, etc.) Laugharne (waders, wildfowl, etc.). Black Mountain [Mynydd Ddu] (raptors, Dotterel on passage, etc.) Llyn Y Fan Fach (winter wildfowl, passage migrants, etc.) Talley Lakes (wildfowl, grebes, etc.) Brechfa Forest (Nightjars, Kites, Crossbills, Redpolls, etc.)

Top Sites
  • Burry Port and Pembrey Harbours

    Satellite View
    4 miles west of Llanelli the area has large numbers of Oystercatchers, Dunlins, Sanderlings, Redshanks, Ringed Plovers and Turnstones with smaller numbers of Greenshanks and Bar-tailed Godwits. Occasional in winter are Great Northern and Red-throated Divers, Eider and Common Scoters. Spring brings passage Terns, mainly Sandwich and occasional Osprey. Autumn passage produces hundreds of Sandwich Terns, smaller numbers of Common, Arctic, Little and sometimes Black Tern. Mediterranean Gulls occur in hundreds from July to September with the occasional Arctic Skua offshore. Rarities have included Ivory Gull, Black Guillemot, Little Auk and Roseate Tern. Black Redstarts can be seen around the harbours in some winters.
  • Cefn Sidan Sands

    InformationSatellite View
    9 miles west of Llanelli is the 7-mile expanse of Cefn Sidan Sands. Large flocks of Common Scoter (up to 38,000) occur offshore but numbers are lower these days. They can be seen throughout the year. Great Northern and Red-throated Divers are regular winter visitors and Eiders are seen occasionally. Internationally important numbers of Sanderling are present along with smaller numbers of Knot, Bar-tailed Godwit and Dunlin. Snow Buntings are seen some winters. The adjacent, mainly conifer Pembrey Forest holds breeding Goshawk, Tree Pipit, Crossbill, Lesser Redpoll and probable Nightjar. Rarities have included Cream-coloured Courser, Buff-breasted Sandpiper and Pallid Swift.
  • Dryslwyn (Castle)

    InformationSatellite View
    The floodplain of the River Tywi can be best viewed from the bridge over the river or by walking up the path to the ruins of Dryslwyn Castle where panoramic views of the river and fields can be obtained. Formerly the winter haunt of up to 3500 White-fronted Geese, these are now only rarely seen in very small numbers amongst the large numbers of Canada and Greylag Geese that have replaced them. Small numbers of Pink-footed and Barnacle Geese occur most winters. Whoopers Swans from Iceland appear from October and up to 90 have been seen here and upriver at Cilsan Bridge. Good numbers of other wildfowl include Wigeon, Teal, Pintail and Shoveler. Small numbers of Lapwing, Curlew and Snipe are seen along with the occasional wintering Green Sandpiper. Breeding birds include internationally important numbers of Little Ringed Plovers on the shingle banks, Mute Swans and Goosanders. The river banks are home to Sand Martins, Kingfishers and Dippers. Red Kite and Raven are common and Hobby occurs in the summer months.
  • Kidwelly Quay

    InformationSatellite View
    Ten miles west of Llanelli off the A484 signposted from Kidwelly town centre. A great area with free parking at the Quay. Large numbers of wildfowl and waders can be viewed from the quayside which include Brent Geese, Wigeon, Pintail, Teal and Red-breasted Merganser and the occasional Long-tailed Duck. Waders include Redshank, Greenshank, Dunlin with smaller numbers of Grey Plover, Black-tailed Godwit and during autumn passage Curlew Sandpiper and Little Stint and regular Spotted Redshank which overwinters. Oystercatchers are very numerous further down the estuary and Golden Plovers numbers reach several thousand. They can be seen resting on the mudflats until they are disturbed by a passing bird of prey. Marsh and Hen Harriers are regular along with Merlin. The nearby sewage works holds good numbers of wintering Chiffchaffs and Goldcrests along with the occasional Blackcap, Firecrest and Siberian Chiffchaff. Rarities have included the only accepted Welsh record of Hooded Merganser, Long-billed Dowitcher and Pectoral Sandpiper.
  • Pendine

    Satellite View
    Pendine is ten miles SW of St Clears, on the A4066 [via Dylan's Laugharne]. One of the best spots for observing [late October to mid March] the 15,000+ Common Scoters in Carmarthen Bay. A fair smattering of Velvet's is ever present; also small flocks of Red-throated Divers, with Great Northern and Black-throated Divers's regularly occurring [The Sands were once famous for the breaking of world land speed records!].
  • RSPB Gwenffrwd-Dinas

    WebpageSatellite View
    Enjoy a walk through enchanting alder and oak woodland, past fast-flowing, spectacular rivers. This reserve is set in the heart of the beauty of mid Wales. You should have no problem spotting a red kite, and in the summer there'll also be pied flycatchers, redstarts, common sandpipers, dippers and grey wagtails. As the trail is set in a steep-sided valley, some parts are rugged and steep, and can be slippery when wet.
  • Sandy Water Park

    WebpageSatellite View
    Situated just off the A484 Llanelli/Burry Port road just outside Llanelli. A good site for winter wildfowl, including Pochard and Tufted Duck, with occasional Goosander and Goldeneye. Large numbers of gulls come to bathe here. Mainly Herring, Lesser-black Backed and Black-headed with Mediterranean Gulls regular too. Little Gulls are regular on passage and after winter storms and Black Terns are seen occasionally on passage. Breeding birds include Water Rail and Reed & Cetti’s Warbler. Rarities have included, Blue-winged Teal, Bonaparte’s Gull, White-winged Black Tern, Grey Phalarope and Alpine Swift.
  • WWT Llanelli Wetlands Centre

    WebpageSatellite View
    The WWT Llanelli (Penclacwydd) Reserve is on the A484, 2.5 miles west of Loughor Bridge, on the eastern side of Llanelli. It is easily the top site in the county to watch birds. All the usual waders, including a large resident flock of Black-tailed Godwits; large winter flocks of Pintail, Wigeon, Shoveler, Teal and Dark-bellied Brent Geese occur. Marsh and Hen Harriers, Merlin and Peregrine are regular and Short-eared Owls are seen occasionally. Breeding birds include Lapwing, Redshank, Pochard, Gadwall and Tufted Duck. There is a large Black-headed Gull colony with occasional nesting Mediterranean Gulls. A good variety of warblers breed including, Reed, Sedge and Cetti’s. Little Egrets are common along with regular Great White Egrets and Cattle Egrets occur most years. 14 county firsts have been found at Penclacwydd. These are: Green-winged and Blue-winged Teal, American Wigeon, Lesser Scaup, Cattle and Great White Egrets, Collared Pratincole, Long-billed Dowitcher, Marsh Sandpiper, Bonaparte’s Gull, Caspian Tern, Savi’s and Aquatic Warblers. Pallid Harrier is the most recent new addition. Additionally, Purple Heron, Glossy Ibis, Franklin’s Gull, Pectoral Sandpiper, Lesser Yellowlegs, Red-necked Phalarope and Roseate Tern have also occurred here. Ruff, Curlew Sandpiper, Wood Sandpiper and Little Stint are regular passage birds.
  • Eric Wydenbach

  • Gary Harper

County Recorder
  • Gary Harper

    Maesteg, Capel Selon, Drefach, Llanelli SA14 7BS

    01269 831496 or 07748 970124

Number of Species
  • Number of bird species: 313

    County Bird - Red Kite Milvus milvus
  • Carmarthenshire County List

    Includes only those species which have been accepted by the relevant record panels, each species listed using ‘Vernacular – Latin – Welsh’ names.
  • Carmarthenshire Bird Club - Clwb Adar Sir Gaerfyrddin

    The Carmarthenshire Bird Club exists to promote the observation, study and recording of the wild birds and wild-bird populations of Carmarthenshire. The club also organises meetings for its members which include field trips and talks on wildlife topics.
  • CarmsBirdClub

    Twitter Feed
    The Carmarthenshire Bird Club exists to promote the observation, study, recording and protection of the wild birds and wild-bird populations of Carmarthenshire.
  • The Wildlife Trust of South & West Wales

    The Wildlife Trust of South and West Wales is one of 47 Wildlife Trusts across the UK. We are the fourth largest in area, covering from Cardiff and Caerphilly in the east to Ceredigion and Pembrokeshire in the west, and include 3 of the West Wales islands amongst our 90 or so nature reserves - Nature Centre, Parc Slip, Fountain Road, Tondu, Bridgend, Mid Glamorgan CF32 0EH.
  • Welsh Ornithological Society

    Bird-recording in Wales is based largely on the Watsonian vice-county system. The boundaries of Carmarthenshire VC44 are very similar to those of Carmarthenshire unitary authority.

Abbreviations Key

  • LNR Ashpits Pond and Pwll Lagoon

    InformationSatellite View
    Formerly used as settling lagoons for pulverised fuel ash from the now demolished Carmarthen Bay Power Station. Ashpits Pond is an important area for breeding wetland birds and the area of reed surrounding the pond provides shelter for breeding and resting birds.
  • LNR Coed Wern Ddu

    WebpageSatellite View
    Wern Ddu is a long strip of mature Oak woodland with a stream running the length of the site. Sessile Oak predominates with Wych Elm, and Downy Birch. A variety of bryophytes and ferns occur, including the rare moss Cephaloziella turneri. This woodland area provides a good habitat for birds, and several species of butterfly and moth, particularly during the late summer months.
  • LNR Cors Goch

    WebpageSatellite View
    Cors Goch is part of a lowland raised mire and is one of the last six large raised bogs in Wales. Alder carr and Downy Birch make up most of the southern boundary.
  • LNR Dynefwr Castle Woods

    WebpageSatellite View
    Castle Woods is comprised of two areas of ancient semi-natural woodland with veteran trees on the steep south and west-facing slope that overlooks the River Tywi. Pendunculate Oak is interspersed with Ash, Beech and Sycamore, with 45% of the Elm having been lost to disease. The understory is comprised of Holly, Hazel, Elder, and Spindle. Breeding birds include Red Kite, Great Spotted, Green Woodpecker, Treecreeper, Nuthatch, Redstart, Pied and Spotted Flycatcher. Resident birds of prey include Sparrowhawk, Buzzard and Tawny Owl. The floodplain grassland below the wood holds numbers of roosting wildfowl including Goosander, Mallard, Pochard, Shoveler, Teal, Tufted Duck with Pintail, Whooper Swan and Wigeon, in winter, and occasional Little and Great White Egrets.
  • LNR Ffrwd Farm Mire

    WebpageSatellite View
    Ffrwd Farm Mire lies 4 m above sea level inland from the extensive Tywyn and Pembrey sand dune complex. It is the least disturbed remnant of the fenland, which once stretched from Kidwelly to Burry Port. The open water habitats support a varied dragonfly population including the Hairy Dragonfly (5-6) and Variable Damselfly (6-7). The reed-bed supports breeding Cetti's, Reed and Sedge Warbler with Mallard, and Water Rail. The surrounding scrub and willow carr has Willow and Grasshopper Warbler, Lesser and Common Whitethroat, Willow Tit, also Water Rail. Winter brings Snipe and Teal, with rare visits from Bittern and Marsh Harrier. Water Vole is regular here.
  • LNR Nant Melin

    WebpageSatellite View
    The reserve is made up of 2.4 ha of deciduous woodland and about 0.5 ha of rough pasture in the upper Tywi catchment. The woodland lies on the steep Nant Melin valley side, the wet pasture above lying on a much gentler slope. The breeding birds include Cuckoo, Pied Flycatcher, Spotted Flycatcher, Tawny Owl and Wood Warbler.
  • LNR Pembrey Burrows & Saltings

    InformationSatellite View
    The area is good for Marsh Harrier, Snipe and Jack Snipe and wintering Hen Harrier, Merlin and occasional Short-eared Owls. Huge Swallow roost in reed-bed in late summer. Rarities have included Yellow-browed Warbler. It is renowned for its plant diversity and is home to many rarities including Dune Pansy, Dune Gentian, Sand Catchfly, Bloody Cranesbill, Fragrant Evening Primrose and Kidney Vetch. The insect life that relies on this plant diversity is also unique and you can find the Small Blue and Marbled White butterfly as well as many species of solitary bee and wasp such as the Brown-banded Carder Bee.
  • LNR Poor Man’s Wood (Gallt y Tlodion)

    WebpageSatellite View
    Poor Man’s Wood is a Sessile Oak wood with a Hazel understorey, on a hillside with a northerly aspect. The canopy also includes Rowan, Holly, Crab Apple, Sallow, Ash, and Elder, with a few Beech at the northwest end. There is a small quantity of Wild Service trees, a local species. The breeding birds are typical of this upland Oak woodland habitat; Blackcap, Buzzard, Nuthatch, Pied Flycatcher, and Wood Warbler, with both Great and Lesser Spotted Woodpecker having been seen. Buzzards also nest in the wood and mammals include Badger.
  • LNR Rhos Cefn Bryn

    WebpageSatellite View
    Rhos Cefn Bryn consists of unimproved acid grassland. This type of grassland is generally confined to west Wales and is a feature associated with Carmarthenshire and south Ceredigion. Such habitats are becoming scarcer resulting in the loss of important areas for many specialised species of birds, reptiles and insects. The reserve supports a thriving population of the endangered and declining Marsh Fritillary butterfly, which can be seen from May until September and the caterpillars can be found in larval webs most conspicuous during September and October. Ground nesting birds such as Meadow Pipit and Snipe feed on the plentiful supply of insects in the grassland, and Reed Bunting can be seen feeding amongst the scrub and Willow carr.
  • NNR Carmel Woods

    InformationSatellite View
    This NNR is home to the only turlough (seasonal lake) in Britain, but it has many other habitats and wildlife to enjoy, too. Apart from broad-leaved woodland, Carmel Woods has heathland, bog, a limestone quarry, caves and species-rich grassland. Carmel comprises a mosaic of habitats with a distinct patchwork pattern of woodland blocks, with the intervening grassland rides kept open by grazing animals. Surrounding this grassland-woodland mosaic are a number of unimproved and semi-improved hay meadows which are also grazed after the hay crop is taken each summer. Parts of the reserve, particularly the western Pwll Edrychiad block, are covered in large areas of freely-draining species-rich neutral grassland which host different species including Common Knapweed, Bird’s-foot Trefoil and Devil’s-bit Scabious. The lower parts of this block also host marshy grassland and some of the upper limestone ridge is covered in a scrubby layer of Bracken and Gorse, which provides good habitat for reptiles. Dormice have been discovered in the south western corner of the reserve in the well connected network of wooded patches and hedgerows. A wide range of birds use the varied habitats including Willow Tit, Green Woodpecker, Great Spotted Woodpecker and many more.
  • NRW Brechfa Forest

    InformationSatellite View
    Brechfa Forest covers some 6500 hectares and is looked after by Natural Resources Wales for the benefit of people, wildlife and timber production. Red Kite, Sparrowhawks, Peregrine, Goshawk, Buzzards, Merlins, Kestrels, Ravens, Curlews, WoodCock, Nightjar, Cuckoos, Barn owls, Little Owls, Woodpeckers (all 3), Goldcrest, Warblers, Crossbills…
  • RSPB Gwenffrwd-Dinas

    WebpageSatellite View
    Come to Carmarthenshire and enjoy a walk through enchanting alder and oak woodland, past fast-flowing and spectacular rivers. Set in the heart of glorious mid-Wales, the Gwenffrwd-Dinas reserve is home to all manner of birdlife including red kites, pied flycatchers, redstarts, common sandpipers, Spotted Flycatcher, dippers and grey wagtails.
  • WWT Llanelli Wetland Centre

    WebpageSatellite View
    Llanelli Wetland Centre is a 450 acre mosaic of lakes, scrapes, pools, streams and lagoons adjoining the salt marshes and shore of the scenic Burry Inlet. The range of habitats makes the site a refuge for many different plants and animals with tens of thousands of migratory birds visiting every year. The lagoons nearest to the estuary are where birds gather in the greatest abundance, including black-tailed godwits, greenshank, curlew, pintail, shelduck, shoveler, snipe and teal. Little egrets – rarely seen in Wales before the centre opened - are regulars, too, and in ever-rising numbers.
Sightings, News & Forums
  • Carmarthenshire Bird Club Latest Sightings

Places to Stay
  • Godremamog Mill Search

    The valley is right on the Pembrokeshire / Carmarthenshire border, half way between Cardigan and Carmarthen, in beautiful, rural West Wales. You will see a variety of birds from your mill apartment window, including wagtails, dippers, woodpeckers, buzzards and even kingfishers, red kites, herons and pied fly-catchers if you are lucky. Each apartment has its own bird spotting book and you are welcome to borrow the field glasses from the summer house.
Other Links
  • Best Bird Watching Trails in Carmarthenshire

    Explore the most popular bird watching trails in Carmarthenshire with hand-curated trail maps and driving directions as well as detailed reviews and photos from hikers, campers and nature lovers like you.
  • Carmarthenshire Bird Forum

  • Carmarthenshire Birds and Wildlife

    Facebook Page
  • The British Bird of Prey Centre

    You can watch Golden eagles, Red kites and Peregrine falcons flying within inches of you. All with the amazing backdrop of the National Botanic Garden of Wales.
Photographers & Artists
  • Artist - David Miller

    Very fine bird paintings

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